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Winstep News

Winstep Xtreme v17.1 Released!

January 27, 2017

An integrated workspace environment, Winstep Xtreme is a powerful suite of applications that merge incredible usability and performance with breathtaking eye candy.

Windows 10 Ready Winstep Xtreme runs on the 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8.x and 10.

v17.1 features a new moon phases module, smooth scrolling in the Shelf, the ability for parent docks to remain magnifiable even when sub-docks are open, individual settings for sub-docks, more alarm options for the weekly schedule plus many other performance and stability improvements.

What's New? Highlighted Features:

  • New Moon Phases module.

  • Did you know that the moon in the Southern hemisphere appears upside down from the point of view of someone in the Northern hemisphere (and vice versa, of course)? Yes? Ah, but did you know that the moon wobbles as it orbits the earth, and that it's never at the same distance from it?

    Now you can witness all this happening in a beautiful realistic animation using the new Moon Calendar: press the Play button and time will accelerate to a rate of roughly 3 days per second.

    Click any day in the calendar and the moon will smoothly rotate to show you the phase, tilt and relative distance from earth at that particular time. You can also click the Forward and Back buttons to go back and forth one day at a time, or the Rewind button whenever you wish to return to the current day.

    Clicking the Information button will let you know when the moon raises and sets on that day, where in the sky it is, and much more! Clicking the Time button will allow you to get that same information accurate to the hour and minute.

    When the information panel is up you can also click on the little moons to be taken to the day where the moon is at the chosen phase.

    For those into the mystical side of life, clicking the Zodiac button rotates the calendar to show you which zodiacal sign the moon is on in that particular day:

    Like all other modules, the new Moon Phases module is available in two syles: for the moon module these are either Realistic or Simple.

    User location is automatically retrieved using the same GeoIP technology employed by the Weather module. You can also type in your current latitude and longitude coordinates if you want, of course.

    These coordinates are crucial to accurately calculate the tilt and position of the moon in the sky at any given time, as well as other important information.

    There are plenty of customization options, including the ability to use of alternate full moon images as well as support for animated icons.

  • Shelf smooth scrolling.

  • The Shelf (tabbed dock) supports multiple rows of icons. Up until now scrolling the Shelf meant a new icon row would instantly replace the previous row. Now the icons smoothly scroll up and down (but speeding up to keep up with you if necessary).

    The devil is in the details. Sometimes it's not the feature itself that makes you go 'Ahhhh' but how much attention to detail is given to it.

  • Parent dock magnification and independent sub-dock settings.

  • Parent docks can now be made to magnify normally even when sub-docks are open and each sub-dock can have its own settings, independent from those of the parent dock (e.g.; icon size, transparency, theme, effects, etc...)

    Both features are optional and can be turned on or off in the Sub-Docks dialog of each dock (Behavior tab of the Dock Properties dialog).

  • More Alarm Manager options.

  • Weekly alarms can now also be scheduled to run every (x) weeks only (for instance, only every other Wednesday) and the ESC key can be modified to act like Snooze instead of killing an alarm (useful for those heavy sleepers would would automatically press ESC and go right back to sleep).

  • Multi-monitor Reserve Screen Space.

  • NextSTART can now create user-defined reserved screen areas on monitors other than the primary. The Reserve Screen Space function is useful to prevent maximized applications from overlapping other screen objects, such as NextSTART hotspot buttons, for instance.

  • Added protection against problematic 3rd party MP3 codecs and audio filters.

  • Version 16.12 replaced the previous low quality WAV based voice packs with high quality MP3 audio files. These voice packs are used by the clock module to announce the time, the email checker module to announce the arrival of new messages, and the battery module to report power events.

    Soon after, Winstep began receiving sporadic reports of crashes and weird behavior that could not be reliably reproduced. After a long and difficult diagnosis process it was possible to conclude that the problems were being caused by some bad 3rd party MP3 decoders and/or audio filters that run inside the Winstep application process space whenever it played an MP3 audio file. The problematic decoder DLLs would silently corrupt memory belonging to the Winstep application, eventually leading to a crash and/or some very strange behavior.

    Since Winstep cannot fix 3rd party code - and given the prevalence of many different free codec packs such as K-Lite on the Internet, with no way to know which are good and which are bad - the only solution was to isolate the main application from all of them. As such, media files are now played by WsMMPlay.exe. This small Winstep utility will play audio files on demand and exit shortly after, thus keeping the main application safe from the potential problems caused by bad codecs and audio filters.

  • Improvements to the update process.

  • In a goal to make updating less intrusive, the Setup wizard is no longer shown. Previously you got the new update notification prompt, download progress bar, UAC prompt before running the Setup wizard and then a handful of Setup pages which you had to click through. Things now will be exactly the same up until the UAC prompt, but after that all you should see is an installation progress bar and next thing you know you're already running the updated version.

  • Many other performance and stability improvements! Please see complete change log below...

  • Winstep applications are powerful and complex applications. When modifying complex applications, especially when making extensive changes, it's very easy to accidentally introduce new bugs. Most of these bugs are caught during QA testing, but sometimes a couple manage to escape into the wild.

    Version 16.2 was not an exception to this. Fixing a problem resolving MSI installer shortcuts accidentaly broke shortcut resolution for 64 bit applications as well. The faster and less problematic method to obtain iconic window thumbnails ended up returning black or glitched thumbnails in very specific cases.

    This release fixes these and other issues that were detected in the mean time, most of them minor but a couple capable of crashing the application or render it unusable until it was restarted. Remember, if you experience any problems please contact Winstep support - we're eager to fix all issues, but alas, we can only fix those we know about!

WorkShelf v17.1 complete change log:

  • Updated the Portuguese language file.
  • The Desktop Calendar module now gives visual feedback on mouseover.
  • Added theme locks for the new modules to the Theme Options dialog in Preferences.
  • Added new 'Next Desktop Background' internal command. Switches to the next wallpaper when Windows is in slideshow mode.
  • Added new 'Moon Phase' module featuring an interactive Moon Calendar with phases of the moon and zodiac sign support.
  • Added smooth scrolling to the Shelf.
  • Added a toggle z-order option (Always On Top or Normal Z-Order) to the right click context menu of a running application.
  • Users no longer have to go through the Setup wizard When installing updates via the Winstep Update Manager.
  • Added 'WsMMPlay.exe' applet to isolate the main application from buggy 3rd party software codecs and filters when playing MP3 files.
  • The pop-up Calendar that shows when clicking the clock or calendar modules no longer appears over the dock.
  • Added two new options to the Alarms Weekly schedule: 'Beginning date' and 'repeat every'. This allows creating alarms that only go off, for instance, every other Monday.
  • Added 'Lock Theme' setting to the Themes tab of every Dock Properties panel.
  • Added sliding Color Settings panel to the Modules tab in Preferences.
  • Parent docks can now keep on magnifying by default even when sub-docks are open. Added new 'Allow parent dock magnification when sub-docks are open' to the Sub-Docks dialog in the Behavior tab of the Dock Properties dialog.
  • Sub-docks can now be configured individually from the parent dock (icon size, theme, etc...) by disabling the new 'Sub-docks inherit parent dock settings' option in the Sub-Docks dialog.
  • Added setting to prevent the ESC key from closing Alarm Reminders, instead turning it into a snooze button. Useful for those who use clock alarms to wake up and unconsciously press ESC before immediately going back to sleep.
  • Issue that could cause some thumbnail bitmaps to be rendered with a black opaque instead of transparent background.
  • The Power Events log was unable to fully display logs over 64 KB in size.
  • Changes made in the Email Checker module Settings Panel invoked via the right click context menu were being discarded.
  • The logo was not being painted correctly on the 'Version Information' dialog.
  • Switching Shelf tabs via the keyboard (CTRL+TAB and SHIFT+CTRL+TAB) was not first reseting the current icon row to the top of the next tab as it should.
  • When uncollapsing a semi-transparent Shelf with glass blur enabled under Vista or 7, the full glass region would briefly flicker on the screen even though the Shelf was not yet visible.
  • Fixed critical bug in which using an animated mouseover effect on a tab with thumbnail images (e.g; pictures, videos, folders, etc...) would result in a hard crash and application termination if the user moused over a thumbnail while it was still morphing from icon into thumbnail.
  • Fixed visual glitches in the Shelf when using an animated mouseover effect over an icon that is currently morphing into a thumbnail.
  • Fixed a Sticky tab + auto-hide timing problem that could make one function interfere with the other, causing issues such as tabs appearing unresponsive after uncollapsing the Shelf, the auto-hide animation terminating abruptly, etc...
  • Fixed visual glitch that could cause the Shelf to flicker on the screen when expanding.
  • The MSI installer fix in v16.
  • 2 broke Shortcut resolution when launching applications, which in turn made it impossible to run shortcuts to 64 bit applications.
  • Deleting the last two docks from the Docks & Shelves tab in Preferences was not removing the older dock's controls.
  • Icon labels in the dock were not being correctly positioned if the size of the icons in the dock was larger than the magnification size.
  • Fixed timing issue that could cause the Weather module to keep flashing forever.
  • When using 12-hour time, any alarm set to 12:00-12:59 AM would reset itself to 12:00-12:59 PM.
  • Reseting Docks and Shelves only in the Troubleshooting Options dialog in Preferences could reset things to a state where only the Shelf was visible.
  • The 'Colorize by shifting hues instead of tinting' setting was always set in the Themes tab of the Shelf Properties dialog.
  • Performance Settings set via the Advanced dialog were being ignored.
  • Fixed bug with the battery module that could fill the power log with 'Communication Lost' events if the battery got disconnected.
  • Fixed bug where the only way to detected the (re-)connection of a battery was to restart the application.
  • Fixed potential issue where the result of a WhoIs request in the Active Connections panel could be reported without line breaks.
  • Fixed a problem obtaining the thumbnails of some running applications, caused by a method change in v16.12, which would render some thumbnails completely black. We still manage to get thumbnails we previously couldn't with the original PrintWindow method.
  • Fixed positioning issue that would freeze the application if a full screen alarm popped up while a window alarm was still on-screen.
  • Fixed module related issues where previous setting changes could become undone by clicking Ok on a module's settings panel.
  • Fixed potential issue where nothing would happen when clicking the arrows on the desktop calendar module if 'Disable module scaling on high DPI settings' was enabled.
  • If the 'Disable reflections when dock is vertical' setting was enabled, a vertical dock rotated into horizontal would not display icons reflections, and a vertical dock rotated from horizontal would keep the reflection bitmaps in memory instead of destroying them.
  • If the Shelf was set not to display icon labels and there was no room to display a tooltip below the icon, the tooltip could cover the icons if they were small enough, making it impossible to click on them. The tooltip now appears above the icons instead of below in this case.
  • Alarms where not accepting dates in the format (i.e.; where the date separator was a '.' character).
  • Fixed bug with the Desktop Net Meter module that could cause the module to be refreshed constantly with consequent high CPU usage.
  • Fixed heavy performance drop when dragging icons over a dock with an open sub-dock.
  • Fixed issue that could cause icons to appear cropped at the top or bottom when playing the Bounce, Squish and Push animations on a magnifying dock.
  • Desktop modules were only colorizing based on the current wallpaper's dominant color if this colorization option was turned on globally.
  • Changing a dock's wallpaper hot-track colorization setting was actually changing the global wallpaper hottrack setting.
  • Trying to open Active Connections from Net Meter Settings, Battery Information and Power Log from Battery Settings or the Alarm Manager from Clock Settings, would make the application unresponsive to mouse clicks if those dialogs were already open.

NextSTART v17.1 complete change log:

  • Updated the Portuguese language file.
  • Users no longer have to go through the Setup wizard When installing updates via the Winstep Update Manager.
  • Users can now reserve screen space on multiple monitors.
  • Issue that could cause some thumbnail bitmaps to be rendered with a black opaque instead of transparent background.
  • The logo was not being painted correctly on the 'Version Information' dialog.
  • The MSI installer fix in v16.12 broke Shortcut resolution when launching applications, which in turn made it impossible to run shortcuts to 64 bit applications.

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